We’ll Always Have Rendez-Vous

Clockwise from top left: Benoît Jacquot, Isild Le Besco, Virginie Ledoyen and Isabelle Huppert

Clockwise from top left: Benoît Jacquot, Isild Le Besco, Virginie Ledoyen and Isabelle Huppert

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the New York Francocinephile’s feast, in its 20th edition, features work that is  glamorous, challenging, provocative, entertaining, original. The Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance film’s 2015 lineup includes 22 features and four shorts, from emerging and established directors.

In the opening night film, “3 Hearts,” from master filmmaker Benoît Jacquot, Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde), a subdued tax inspector, based in Paris, returning from a visit to a provincial office, misses his train, which proves to be a fortuitous accident. Buying cigarettes, he meets subdued Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and they spend the evening walking and talking–the two fall deeply in love. Without exchanging contact info (or even names), they arrange to meet at a fountain in Paris, but destiny upends their plan. Sylvie leaves for the United States with her boyfriend for a work opportunity and during another trip to the branch office, Marc meets–and falls in love with–subdued Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni), unaware that she’s Sylvie’s beloved sister.

Jacquot is well-known as skilled and sensitive director of women and Gainsbourg and Mastroianni are movingly believable as sisters, and daughters to their mother (played by Catherine Deneuve, Mastroianni’s real life mother). But the casting of Poelvoorde–less attractive and charismatic than binders full of French actors–is problematic.  Suspend disbelief and accept that both Sylvie and Sophie adore him and enjoy the story.

In conjunction with Rendez-Vous, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), is presenting on Tuesdays in March, a series of Benoît Jacquot’s films, “Leading Ladies,” starring Isild Le Besco, Viginie Ledoyen, Léa Seydoux and Isabelle Huppert.

Disappeared children–a young heiress likely murdered by her mother’s ambitious and vengeful former lawyer, and two young boys, abducted by their father whose counterculture, off-the-grid, anti-consumerist lifestyle, has its own rigid rules–drive the plots in the new films of two other masters, André Téchiné and Cédric Kahn.

Téchiné’s “In the Name of My Daughter,” is based on actual events: the manipulation of a recently divorced young woman, Agnès Le Roux (Adèle Haenel), by a greedy lawyer Maurice Agnelet–no little lamb–(Guillaume Canet), leading to the betrayal of her mother, Renée Le Roux (Catherine Deneuve), the owner of a grand casino.

Nora (Céline Sallette) grows disenchanted with living off the land and the nomadic life she shares with her husband Paco (Mathieu Kassovitz–a staggering performance) and young sons in Kahn’s riveting “Wild Life.” While he’s away from their caravan, doing errands, she flees, taking a train to her parents’ house. Subsequently winning custody of their children, she begins to reintegrate into the community. But Paco’s furious love for his sons and disgust for the workings of bourgeois society transforms everyone’s lives.

Cédric Kahn

Cédric Kahn

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema runs from Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 15, with screenings at Alice Tully Hall, Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek.

“3 Hearts” will open on Friday, March 13 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, followed by a national roll-out.

“In the Name of My Daughter” will open on Friday, May 8 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema.

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